Solving Our Unemployment Crisis presentation, April 19, 2016

Today, I am in Madrid for the start of the public events associated with the promotion of the Spanish version of my current book – Eurozone Dystopia: Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale. I travelled this morning from Granada to Madrid and am tied up for the rest of the day. So here is a video of a keynote address I presented on April 19, 2016 to the inaugural Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union Conference Solving Our Unemployment Crisis in Melbourne, Australia. You can find out more about the Union from their – Home Page – and their – Facebook Page. They need more members and the support (funding, promotion etc) from all employed people who care about the problem of unemployment. The talk and questions go for about 37 minutes.
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    Posted in Economics, Labour Force, Unemployment Benefits | 5 Comments

    Australian government doesn’t deserve office, nor does the Opposition!

    Yesterday (May 2, 2016), the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) dropped the short-term policy interest rate by 25 basis points (1/4 of a percent) to 1.75 per cent, a record low as a result of its assessment of a weakening economy and the deflation that has now been revealed by the ABS. I wrote about the latest CPI data in this blog – Australia enters the deflation league of sorry nations. The fact that the RBA is trying to stimulate growth is a sad testament to the current conduct of the Australian government (and the Treasury), which despite all the lying rhetoric that its corporate tax cuts, revealed in last night’s fiscal statement will stimulate jobs growth, is actually continuing to undermine growth. The fiscal contraction implied by last night’s statement by the Federal Treasurer is modest next year and then gets sharper in the year after (2017-18). Many would conclude that the contractionary shift is benign. However, in the context that the strategy is being delivered, the actual need is for the discretionary fiscal deficit to rise by around 1 to 1.5 per cent of GDP, at least, not contract at all. The federal government has moderated its ‘surplus at all costs’ mania which dominated the macroeconomic policy debate a few years ago but is still aiming for a surplus (or close to it) within 4 years. It will fail in that goal because the non-government spending behaviour will not allow that outcome and the government’s own fiscal contraction over that period will undermine growth further. The early statements by the Federal opposition are also idiotic. It is claiming it would make ‘tougher’ decisions (that is, cut the deficit more sharply). That just means it would end up with higher levels of unemployment than the conservatives will under their current strategy. Both unemployment levels will be unacceptable. Neither major political party in Australia is fit for office!
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      Posted in Fiscal Statements | 13 Comments

      The metamorphosis of the IMF as a neo-liberal attack dog

      Today I am in Granada, Spain having an interesting time. Nothing public to report. I will be here until Thursday morning upon which I travel back to Madrid and the public events begin (see below). Today’s blog continues the analysis I have been providing which aims to advance our understanding of why the British government called in the IMF in 1976 and why it fell prey to a growing neo-liberal consensus, largely orchestrated by the Americans. The current book I am finalising with my Italian colleague Thomas Fazi, is tracing the way in which the Right exploited the capacities of the ‘state’ to advance their agenda and how they duped the Left into believing that globalisation had rendered the nation state powerless. There were several turning points in this evolution, and one of those key moments in history, was the assertion by British Labour Prime Minster James Callaghan on September 28, 1976 that Britain had to end its ‘Keynesian’ inclinations and pursue widespread market deregulation and fiscal austerity has been taken to reflect a situation where the British government had no other alternative. His words have echoed down through the years and constituted one of the major turning points in ‘Left’ history. Successive, so-called progressive governments and politicians have repeated the words in one way or another. The impact has been that they have forgotten that their were options at the time that the British government rejected, which would have significantly altered the course of history. Today, we consider the role way in which the IMF reinvented itself after its raison d’être was terminated with the collapse of the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system. The next part of the story will examine the growing US influence on the IMF and the way it used the IMF to further its ‘free market’ agenda on a global scale.
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        Posted in Britain, Debriefing 101, IMF, UK Economy, US economy | 6 Comments

        Travelling all day today

        I am travelling for most of today on my way to Spain to help launch the Spanish language edition of my current book – Eurozone Dystopia: Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale (see details below). I will also be meeting various people at a very interesting period for Spain, the build-up to the June national election that will attempt to resolve the impasse that arose from the election. I will report when I can on what is going on while I am away
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          Posted in Admin | 3 Comments

          The Weekend Quiz – April 30-31, 2016 – answers and discussion

          Here are the answers with discussion for the Weekend Quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of modern monetary theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.
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            Posted in Saturday quiz | 1 Comment

            The Weekend Quiz – April 30-31, 2016

            Welcome to The Weekend Quiz, which used to be known as the Saturday Quiz! The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention over the last seven days. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.
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              Posted in Saturday quiz | 4 Comments

              Australia enters the deflation league of sorry nations

              The smug Australian government – conservative to the core, dishonest on a daily basis, running a daily scare campaign that all that matters is the fiscal deficit and how our AAA rating from the (corrupt) rating agencies will be lost if we don’t record a fiscal surplus as soon as possible. It fails to mention that we have around 15 per cent (at least) of our willing labour resources not being utilised at present. It fails to mention that inequality and poverty is on the rise. And now, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has told us that this is a government that has finally plunged the nation into a deflationary spiral. We are now so obsessed with fiscal balances that do not matter that we ignore the things that actually impact on the well-being of the citizens. And now deflation has arrived. The Australian Bureau of Statistics released the Consumer Price Index, Australia – data for the March-quarter 2016 yesterday. The March-quarter inflation rate was negative (-0.2 per cent), which means Australia has now entered a deflationary period – a reflection of our poorly performing economy. The annual inflation rate is 1.3 per cent, which is well below the Reserve Bank of Australia’s lower target bound of 2 per cent. The RBA’s preferred core inflation measures – the Weighted Median and Trimmed Mean – are also now below the lower target bound and are trending sharply down. Various measures of inflationary expectations are also falling, quite sharply, including the longer-term, market-based forecasts. It is time for a change in policy direction although next week’s fiscal statement (aka ‘The Budget’) will likely just reinforce the current malaise. A sorry state.
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                Posted in Fiscal Statements, Inflation | 4 Comments

                The Left confuses globalisation with neo-liberalism and gets lost

                Financial Times journalist Wolfgang Münchau’s article (April 24, 2016) – The revenge of globalisation’s losers – rehearses a common theme, and one which those on the Left have become intoxicated with (not implicating the journalist among them). The problem is that the basic tenet is incorrect and by failing to separate the process of globalisation (integrated multinational supply chains and global capital flows) from what we might call economic neo-liberalism, the Left leave themselves exposed and too ready to accept notions that the capacity of the state has become compromised and economic policy is constrained by global capital. This is a further part in my current series that will form the thrust of my next book (coming out later this year). I have broken sequence a bit with today’s blog given I have been tracing the lead up to the British decision to call in the IMF in 1976. More instalments in that sequence will come next week as I do some more thinking and research – I am trawling through hundreds of documents at present (which is fun but time consuming). But today picks up on Wolfgang Münchau’s article from the weekend and fits nicely into the overall theme of the series. It also keeps me from talking about deflation in Australia (yes, announced today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics) as the Federal government keeps raving on about cutting its fiscal deficit (statement next Tuesday). I will write about those dreaded topics in due course.
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                  Posted in Demise of the Left, Economics, Eurozone | 25 Comments

                  The 1976 currency crisis

                  Today, I take a further step in advancing our understanding of why the British government called in the IMF in 1976 and why it fell prey to a growing neo-liberal consensus, largely orchestrated by the Americans. The assertion by British Labour Prime Minster James Callaghan on September 28, 1976 that Britain had to end its ‘Keynesian’ inclinations and pursue widespread market deregulation and fiscal austerity has been taken to reflect a situation where the British government had no other alternative. His words have echoed down through the years and constituted one of the major turning points in ‘Left’ history. Successive, so-called progressive governments and politicians have repeated the words in one way or another. The impact has been that they have increasingly imbibed the neo-liberal Kool-Aid and have, seemingly forgotten that their were options at the time that the British government rejected, which would have significantly altered the course of history. The rejections were ideological rather than based on substance. For all intents and purposes, the British Labour Party, in government, had become the first practising neo-liberal government in British history. Britain just became a part of the US-led policy move that aimed to tilt the world economy heavily in favour of the profit-seeking aspirations of the corporate sector and the financial market sector (‘Wall Street’), in particular. The US government became the international political conduit for ‘Wall Street’ influence and the growing influence of the ‘City’ in London, also allowed these neo-liberal ideas to permeate the policy making circles in Britain. But it wasn’t just a permeation that was going on. The US used institutions such as the IMF to conduct brute force attacks on the prosperity of nations to undermine the viability of their public sectors and to shift more of the national income and national assets into the hands of capital. It was a brazen and very determined shift in world affairs. The ‘Left’ should never hold the decisions that were taken by the British government at the time as an inevitability of global capitalism.
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                    Posted in Britain, Demise of the Left, IMF, UK Economy | 10 Comments

                    Hype aside – the Juncker Plan – a failure from day one

                    When Jean-Claude Juncker took over the Presidency of the European Commission in November 2014 – yes, 18 months ago. His record before that should have warned everyone of where his ideological preferences lay. He was the President of the Eurogroup from January 1, 2005 to January 21, 2013, serving two terms and overseeing harsh austerity programs and continually hectoring Member States to obey the rules that would see millions of citizens deliberately rendered jobless. Not only was the Eurozone a deeply flawed construction but the fiscal rules that were enforced for the weaker states (not Germany in 2004) were the anathema of responsible economic policy given the scale of the recession. The Eurozone is still teetering on the brink of crisis some 8 years after the GFC began. It is no surprise that he was termed “the most dangerous man in Europe” by the British press on June 4, 2014 (Source). They noted that he was a “ruthless opportunist” who “admits lying and backs ‘secret’ debate on European finances”. He was previously forced out of his position as Prime Minister of Luxembourg in 2013 as a result of his ‘political responsibility’ for illegal spying by that nation’s secret police on individuals, including rival politicians among other sins. This is the man that is now in charge of the dysfunctional European Commission. When he was eleted to the European Commission Presidency, his main strategic initiative, which was promoted with much fanfare was the so-called €300 billion investment offensive. It was adopted in November 2014 and was accompanied with other plans to fix the banking system and improve productivity growth. The plan has been an abysmal failure like most of the initiatives that come from the neo-liberal Groupthink machine known as the European Commission.
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                      Posted in Economics, Eurozone | 7 Comments